Management of primary intracranial germ cell tumors

J Neurooncol. 2010 Jan;96(2):143-9. doi: 10.1007/s11060-009-9951-z. Epub 2009 Jul 9.


Primary intracranial germ cell tumors are rare and usually localized in the pineal and the suprasellar regions. They are divided into the following histologic types: germinoma, teratoma (mature, immature, malignant), choriocarcinoma, embryonal carcinoma, endodermal sinus tumor (yolk sac tumor), and mixed tumors. Clinically, they are manifested with ocular signs or signs of obstructive hydrocephalus. Localized germinomas are treated with radiation therapy and exhibit a relatively good prognosis. Chemotherapy is reserved for disseminated germinomas. Mature teratomas are treated with surgery. The rest of germ cell tumors are managed with various combinations of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy depending on the tumor type. If the tumors secrete beta-human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) or alpha-fetoprotein (FP), these tumor markers can be used to accurately monitor response to treatment. Prognosis is best for germinomas and mature teratomas and worst for choriocarcinomas and embryonal carcinomas.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Embryonal / therapy
  • Germinoma / therapy
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Neoplasms, Germ Cell and Embryonal / classification*
  • Neoplasms, Germ Cell and Embryonal / diagnosis
  • Neoplasms, Germ Cell and Embryonal / genetics
  • Neoplasms, Germ Cell and Embryonal / therapy*
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism
  • Pinealoma / therapy*
  • Teratoma / therapy


  • Nerve Tissue Proteins